A healthy campus is a happy campus

As the new school year begins, students crawl back to class and back into old, unhealthy habits.

As the new school year begins, students crawl back to class and back into old, unhealthy habits. Because school can take a toll on one’s body, a group of faculty members are trying to help students combat the difficulties of being a healthy student in a hectic world.  

Last year, Jackie Balzer, vice provost for student affairs, led a small group of faculty members to launch a program called the Healthy Campus Initiative [HCI]. 

Although the program is still in its infancy, the group was able to draft its mission statement, objectives and values before taking a short break over the summer.

According to the initiative’s website, the mission statement is to “support an ecology of campus wellness while promoting healthy behaviors and ethic of care.”  

During the summer, Dana Tasson was selected as Student Health and Counseling’s new executive director, as well as the co-chair heading the HCI.

“We didn’t want to move too far forward without the new [SHAC executive director] position filled,” said Alex Acetta, director of Campus Recreation and the other co-chair of the HCI. “[SHAC] really is a key component to the health of students.”

Tasson and other HCI members have concluded that student success could be greatly influenced by a healthy, safe and caring community.

 “All [members] are stakeholders in creating a safe, healthy campus environment that promotes healthy behaviors and an ethic of care, with the ultimate goal of promoting student success,” Tasson said.

According to Tasson, group members were able to construct the website prior to the summer break, and have already been involved in a couple of projects around campus. Last spring, for example, the HCI partnered with the Women’s Resource Center [WRC] to promote their Red Flag Campaign for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

“When [the WRC] did their Red Flag Campaign, we helped support it by posting information at the Rec Center,” Acetta said. “The [WRC] doesn’t have to be the only place that’s paying attention to [the event]. As a campus, we can really pay attention more broadly.”

The HCI has also been involved with progress in Urban Plaza to continue to keep it smoke-free.

“[Already] there is more signage up and more conversations [taking place]… so people can understand the dangers around secondhand smoke,” Acetta said.

In addition, the monthly online health magazine, Student Health 101, is available because of the HCI, Tasson said. The HCI members have set up an e-mail system that informs students when the magazine’s latest issue can be viewed.

“We’re [also] promoting an activity called Walktober, which is an online motivational tool to help people keep exercising into the fall,” Acetta said. Walktober begins Oct. 11 and lasts exactly one month.

The members of HCI are serious about health because it ties in very directly with other important aspects of student success.  

“If you’re healthy, and you know where resources are [that allow you] to stay healthy, you are more likely to go to class, which means you’re more likely to get credit…which means you are more likely to graduate,” Acetta said. “That’s really what we are trying to talk about: How we can make sure that students are healthy so that they can go to school.”